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Economy in Brief

U.S. Home Builders Index Edges Down
by Tom Moeller  January 20, 2015

The Composite Housing Market Index from the National Association of Home Builders-Wells Fargo slipped to 57 in January from an upwardly revised December reading of 58, earlier reported as 57. During the last ten years, there has been an 80% correlation between the y/y % change in the home builders index and the y/y % change in single-family housing starts. The latest figure fell short of 58, expected in the Informa Global Markets Survey.

The index of single-family home sales held steady m/m at 62, unchanged y/y. It's been fairly steady at that level for the last several months. The index of expected sales during the next six months fell to 60, also unchanged y/y. It was the lowest level, however, since June. The NAHB figures are seasonally adjusted.

Realtors reported that their traffic index fell to 44 (+10.0% y/y), the lowest level in three months.

Housing market activity slipped in most of the country. In the West, the reading fell 12.2% (-8.5% y/y) while in the Northeast it declined 6.5% m/m (+4.9% y/y). The index reading for the South was off 5.2% (+3.8% y/y) but in the Midwest it gained 11.1% (1.7% y/y).

The NAHB has compiled the Housing Market Index since 1985. It reflects survey questions asking builders to rate market conditions as "good," "fair," "poor" or "very high" to "very low." The figure is thus a diffusion index with numerical results over 50 indicating a predominance of "good" readings. The weights assigned to the individual index components are .5920 for single-family detached sales, present time, .1358 for single-family detached sales, next six months and .2722 for traffic of prospective buyers. The results are included in Haver's SURVEYS database. The expectations figure is available in Haver's MMSAMER database.

Joint Small Business Credit Survey, 2014 from the Federal Reserve Bank of New York can be found here.

National Association of Home Builders Jan Dec Nov Jan'14 2014 2013 2012
Composite Housing Market Index, SA (All Good=100) 57 58 58 56 52 51 34
 Single-Family Sales: Present 62 62 62 62 56 55 36
 Single-Family Sales: Next Six Months 60 64 66 60 61 58 41
 Traffic of Prospective Buyers 44 46 45 40 39 39 27
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